Local alt-country singer-songwriter Kat Velasco developed a love of musical theater as a kid growing up in Columbia. “I’ve basically been performing since I was about 5 years old,” she said. In high school, Velasco competed in the Miss South Carolina Teen USA pageant, thriving in the talent portion of the competition.
After graduating high school, however, Velasco put performing on the backburner. “My ultimate goal was always to be a singer,” she said. “But I didn’t really know how to go about doing that. I think I just got caught up in life.”
After spending some time at the University of Alabama, she moved back to South Carolina, got her associate’s degree and settled into a career in finance.
It wasn’t until the pandemic that Velasco reconsidered her direction. A breakup during the shutdown left her feeling isolated. “I started journaling and just really getting my thoughts on paper,” she said. One entry turned into a song that she sang to her parents, who insisted that she record it.
In early 2021, Velasco booked a session with Columbia producer Kenny McWilliams at Archer Avenue Studios. Five months later, “Cliché Country Song” was released into the world. “I actually got a lot of good feedback for my first song, and I kept writing and I kept booking sessions,” she said. “And it grew from there.”
Velasco recorded “Call Me,” her latest single, at Starstruck Entertainment in Nashville. Seasoned producer Andy Sheridan pitched it to her, and she learned the song on the car ride to the Music City.
“It’s kind of like you’re acting, like you’re trying to get yourself into the meaning of the person who wrote this song and what they mean by it,” she said, “And then try to make your own so that you can really connect with the song.”
Velasco’s voice is big and bold, and her songs contain a subtle country flair contrasted against pop hooks. “I think with my background in musical theater, I have a huge voice,” she said. “Call Me” exemplifies her ability to belt with soulful intention.
Velasco recently filmed a music video for “Call Me.” It was directed by Matt Crum, who also shot the video for “Waiting for Forever,” a song by Velasco and her boyfriend and fellow Charleston musician Greg Keys.
The “Call Me” video shows a woman growing frustrated with a man who is romantically interested in her, but only reaches out via social media. It emphasizes the importance of making a concrete effort to connect. “To pick up the phone and call or see each other in person, it just means so much more,” she said.
Velasco is excited about her plans to release another single this winter and announce 2023 show dates within the next few months. “Big things are to come,” she said.
Stay cool. Support City Paper.
City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.